Forward to minute 2:45 on the video
What’s that singular one-moment which says the most about US Soccer, progress, regression, promise?
In 2009, TSG picked “The Counterattack Heard Round the World” which was the height of the US team’s “Confederation Cup” moment. It was a play of beauty. That play just narrowly edged the Charlie Davies Salute at RFK.
In 2010, TSG picked Landon Donovan’s Corner Flag Pile-On which delivered a fanbase from the potential of four years of pain into a “we-can-come-back-from-anything” state of euphoria. Rescue and exaltation all in one moment. YouTube captured the moment and fan reaction well.
In 2011, TSG picked Steve Cherundolo’s injury against Mexico in the Gold Cup Final which finally nudged the boulder downhill into Bob Bradley’s firing, Jurgen Klinsmann’s coronation and The Reclamation Project that will always be known as Jose Torres. The moment narrowly eclipsed “Megan Rapinoe-to-Abby Wambach” which would have easily walked away the 2011 victor had the USWNT stood at the highest point on the World Cup pedestal. Alas, it was the penultimate stand they would inhabit.
2012 had a lot more subtle contenders. There was no magnanimous moment though you could easily argue that the USWNT’s war of attrition against a committed Canadian side at the London Olympics is easily the best US game of this year (over USMNT friendly wins against Italy and Mexico at their fortresses respectfully).
TSG distilled the 2012 “moments” down to six, in no particular order:
» Deuce Face: The USMNT runs rampant over Jamaica on a special September 11th, 2012 to provide some breathing room on reaching CONCACAF’s “Hex” World Cup qualifying round.
» Nashville Death March: Jamie Alas slaloms through Caleb Porter’s US U-23 defense and caroms a shot off keeper Sean Johnson rattling a death knell to the team’s Olympic dream. The US U-23′s draw El Salvador on a clear night in Tennessee, as clear as their Olympic flame of home extinguishes.
» Flick Off, El-Tri!: Geoff Cameron’s in-flying “FLICK OFF!” header at the Azteca with the US in Preservation and Perseverance Mode against El Tri. The US would see itself to victory with a goal from an out-of-position Michael Orozco Fiscalness, 1-0.
» Grown Ass Gamewinner: Eddie Johnson’s resurrection from the USMNT deadpool with a brace on a soggy night in Antigua & Barbuda to rescue a crucial away victory in
» A Walk in Fenway Park: Michael Bradley’s pristine grounder goal for Roma against Liverpool at Fenway.
» Stomp the Headstomper: The headstomp by Melissa Trancredi on Carli Lloyd during the aforementioned US – Canada battle at the London Olympics. It was a vicious, if surreal, moment. It was one which encapsulated the lengths that Canada wanted to go to try and slay their Goliath neighbor at all costs. (Note: The US women–Abby Wambach in particular–threw some cheap shots as well.) The US, of course, would win the semifinal match by a controversial 3-2 result.
The 2012 runner-up for TSG is simply “Michael Bradley.”
By all accounts, 2012 was The Year of The Dome.
Here was Bradley cool, calm and looking very much the part for one of Europe’s Champion’s League-challenging superclubs coming back to the States a star after trekking to Europe to prove he belonged and improve his game.
2012 was Michael Bradley’s year, from his transfer to Roma, impact on USMNT play and, yes, because with his father no longer the coach of the national team the dialogue over whether he belonged was cast aside for good.
It’s a shame–it truly is–that Geoff Cameron’s header steals the show here in this text. It should be added that “Grown Ass Gamewinner” came in third in the running while Deuce Face came in fourth.
The scene? The Azteca. The minute? 56th.
El Tri golden child Chicharito barreling in on goal ready to drive a dagger into the US and a header passed what-is-sure-to-be another-hapless Tim Howard at the Azteca.
Lo and behold, and without a cape, Geoff Cameron flies in, his velocity towards goal necessitating perfection or a trip to the same place Little Pea is gunning for.
Cameron though with the body control of an over-yoga’d ballerina flicks the ball on it’s current line and negates Chicharito’s run and almost certain score, toppling passed the goal line he is defending on the follow-through. Tragedy averted.
The US of course would go on to break the seal of the Azteca on Michael Orozco-Fiscal’s mop-up just before time. The only disclaimer on a sterling moment was the game was a “meaningless” friendly.
The US survived scares in 2012, including where it should’ve had to, Antigua & Barbuda. Eddie Johnson made up for five years of nonchalance and misplaced hype to replace and re-stoke the hype. If Michael Bradley was the player of the year for the States in 2012 and the one to watch going forward, then Eddie Johnson is certainly 2013′s most intriguing.
However, the Yanks have notoriously wilted at the Fenway Park to their Yankee Stadium. And they’ve wilted as a result of intense offensive pressure, ad nauseum.
There were periods of that pressure in this August game, but it was a mesmerizing play by a defender-not-named-Tim-Howard, an up-and-coming high potential defender that saw it to it that the US would keep the home goose egg on the scoreboard and break the hex of the Azteca forever.
And it was a play by a recently transferred player at arguably the US’s thinnest position that kept Howard’s sheet clean. (Yes, Howard made two terrific saves, but then again he always does.)
Geoff Cameron and company may not walk into the Azteca next time and state, “I got this!” but when the whistle blows at kickoff they’ll certainly think, “Been here before.”
And maybe the match will end that way also….though don’t count on it.
Big moment. Lasting moment for US Soccer in 2012.